Advertising
Advertising

10 Online Financial Calculators You Never Knew That Could Make Your Life Easier

10 Online Financial Calculators You Never Knew That Could Make Your Life Easier

We make hundreds of financial decisions every day. Most are simple — do you want fries with that? — but some decisions can be quite complex. As you approach different phases of life, you may find yourself asking these questions, in need of guidance. There are a great many resources available online but I’ve highlighted my favorite 10 online financial calculators to make your life easier:

Should I Buy Or Lease?

The number of cars purchased by 18- to 34-year-olds fell nearly 30 percent from 2007 to 2011. This trend has continued with the rapid adoption of services like ZipCar so the importance of getting a good deal is more important than ever before. Use this calculator to weigh your options and make the best decision.

1 - Should I Buy Or Lease?

      (http://www.cars.com/go/advice/financing/calc/loanLeaseCalc.jsp?mode=full)

    How Much House Can I Afford?

    Likely the most significant purchase you’ll ever make, buying a home can be daunting. Give this calculator a workout in the early stages of your home search to ensure you factor in all expenses and land on a house budget that won’t leave you over extended.

    2 - How Much House Can I Afford?

        (http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/new-house-calculator.aspx)

      Advertising

      When Will My Credit Card Be Paid Off?

      The average American household has more than $15,000 in credit card debt with average interest rates hovering around 17%. Wherever you fall in the spectrum, it’s critically important to develop a debt payoff plan and take a hard look at your credit card balances first. This powerful, easy to use tool allows you to input all your credit card balance and rate information to experiment with multiple pay down plans.

      3 - When Will My Credit Card Be Paid Off?

        (http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/debt-free/)

        How Close Am I To My Savings Goal?

        The power of setting goals cannot be overstated. The power of achieving those goals and raising the bar works wonders for your confidence. Financial goals are no different and this thorough calculator will keep you on track.

        4 - How CLose Am I To My Savings Goal?

            (http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/savings-goal-calculator-tool.aspx)

          What Happens If I Become Disabled?

          I’ve outlined before (

          Advertising

          http://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/8-crucial-financial-moves-make-your-30s.html) your most valuable asset is your future earnings potential. LifeHappens, a non-profit foundation for education, helps quantify the income protection you may be lacking with this tool. 5 - What Happens If I Become Disabled?

              (http://www.lifehappens.org/insurance-overview/disability-insurance/calculate-your-needs/)

            Am I Saving Enough For Retirement?

            The age-old question: how much do I need? After consulting your financial planner for a retirement analysis, plug your current retirement savings plan into this robust calculator and adjust as needed. Remember, you need to actually MAKE any desired savings plan changes!

            6 - Am I Saving Enough For Retirement?

                (http://www.bloomberg.com/personal-finance/calculators/retirement/)

              Will I Be Able To Afford College For The Kids?

              Admittedly, paying for your kids’ college can seem like a fantasy. The earlier you start saving, and saving intelligently, the more likely you are to reach your goal. My Father paid every penny of college tuition for me and my two brothers — hands down, there’s no greater gift. The College Board provides this analysis which considers very important factors like inflation and time horizon.

              7 - Will I Be Able To Afford College For The Kids?

                  (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/college-costs/college-costs-calculator)

                Advertising

                How Soon Until I Pay Off The Mortgage?

                Many online and TV pundits advocate for debt free living which, for most people, means eliminating the mortgage as your most significant liability. Whether you subscribe to this ideal or you simply want to accelerate payments, this tool will help shape your payoff plan. Keep in mind, if you have a “sweetheart” mortgage interest rate, you may be better off allocating your accelerated payments elsewhere.

                8 - How Soon Until I Pay Off The Mortgage?

                    (http://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/mortgage_payoff_calculator/)

                  What Will It Cost to Care For My Elders?

                  It’s no secret the cost of medical care is on the rise. Some industry estimates peg the cost of a private nursing home room to double over the next 15 years. Hopefully your parents and grandparents have made ample arrangements to pay for these expenses. This calculator will help you evaluate the current and projected costs in your area. Don’t know if Mom and Dad are covered? The financial burden may fall on your shoulders so ask them!

                  9 - What Will It Cost To Care For My Elders?

                      (http://www.johnhancockinsurance.com/long-term-care/cost-of-long-term-care-calculator/index.html        

                    Advertising

                     

                    10.  How Long Will I Live?

                    I can’t direct you to the fountain of youth but I can steer you towards this simple exercise the bright Ivy League minds at The Wharton School created. Certainly, it’s not perfect but it will give you an idea of life expectancy so you can plan for an adequate retirement, debt management, life insurance funding, legacy planning and a slew of other important financial decisions.

                    10 - How Long Will I Live?

                        (http://gosset.wharton.upenn.edu/mortality/perl/CalcForm.html)

                      Albert Camus famously mused “Life is the sum of all your choices.” Making sound financial decisions is paramount to living the life of your dreams and no one can make sensible choices without knowledge and understanding. Use these calculators to identify the impact of significant life events and take control of your finances.

                      Featured photo credit: picjumbo via picjumbo.com

                      More by this author

                      4 Simple Ways to Save Enough for Retirement These 8 Everyday Financial Worries Have One Common Solution 10 Online Financial Calculators You Never Knew That Could Make Your Life Easier 8 Crucial Financial Moves To Make In Your 30’s

                      Trending in Money

                      1 How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them 2 25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education 3 10 Recession-Proof Debt Consolidation Tips 4 The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever) 5 25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

                      Read Next

                      Advertising
                      Advertising
                      Advertising

                      Last Updated on September 2, 2020

                      How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                      How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                      Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

                      In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

                      4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

                      Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

                      1. Be Clear About the Objectives

                      Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

                      It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

                      Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

                      2. Keep Goals Realistic

                      It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

                      It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

                      3. Account for Inflation

                      Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

                      Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

                      For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

                      Advertising

                      4. Short Term Vs Long Term

                      Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

                      As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

                      By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

                      How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

                      Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

                      • Ensuring healthy savings
                      • Making smart investments

                      You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

                      Ensuring Healthy Savings

                      Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

                      This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

                      1. Track Expenses

                      The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

                      Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

                      If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

                      2. Pay Yourself First

                      Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

                      Advertising

                      Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

                      The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

                      Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

                      3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

                      Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

                      Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

                      At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

                      Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

                      You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

                      4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

                      In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

                      Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

                      • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
                      • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
                      • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

                      The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

                      Advertising

                      5. Talk About It

                      Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

                      Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

                      6. Maintain a Journal

                      For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

                      If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

                      When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

                      Making Smart Investments

                      Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

                      1. Consult a Financial Advisor

                      Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

                      Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

                      2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

                      Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

                      Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

                      As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

                      Advertising

                      3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

                      Einstein once remarked about compounding:

                      “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

                      Use compound interest when setting financial goals

                        Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

                        Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

                        4. Measure, Measure, Measure

                        All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

                        If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

                        Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

                        The Bottom Line

                        Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

                        and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

                        More Tips on Financial Goals

                        Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

                        Reference

                        Read Next